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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Karnataka govt gets a breather. 8 resignation letters don’t meet Speaker’s bar

Karnataka political crisis: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said he would need to be convinced that the resignations sent by Congress and JDS legislators were “voluntary and genuine”.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2019 16:05 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
KR Ramesh Kumar, the Karnataka Assembly Speaker could well end up deciding the fate of the HD Kumaraswamy government on Tuesday.
KR Ramesh Kumar, the Karnataka Assembly Speaker could well end up deciding the fate of the HD Kumaraswamy government on Tuesday. (HT Photo)
         

KR Ramesh Kumar, the Karnataka Assembly Speaker who could well end up deciding the fate of the HD Kumaraswamy government on Tuesday, said his office would be able to process only five of the 13 resignation letters sent by rebel lawmakers of the ruling Congress and Janata Dal Secular coalition. Ramesh Kumar, who had earlier underlined that he would need to be convinced that the resignations were “voluntary and genuine”, said the resignation letters by 8 MLAs were not in the prescribed format and would have to be submitted afresh.

“If they want to reiterate their stance, they should do so according to proper rules,” Ramesh Kumar told reporters on Tuesday. The assembly speaker said the five lawmakers who had got their letters right in first shot were ex-home minister Ramalinga Reddy, Gopalaiah, Anand Singh, Narayan Gowda and Pratap Gowda Patil.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar has scheduled appointments on 12 and 15 July with the five to talk about their resignation letters.

 Also Watch | Karnataka crisis I Cong MP Adhir Ranjan accuses BJP of ‘poaching politics’

Follow live updates on Karnataka political crisis here

The other eight would have to redraft their letters to meet the requirements of the assembly rules. Kumar said his office was yet to receive the 14th letter received just this morning from suspended Congress lawmaker Roshan Baig.

He also acknowledged that Governor Vajubhai Vala had sent him two letters on the political developments and he had clarified that none of the rebel MLAs had met him so far.

“The governor has expressed confidence that I will uphold constitutional norms,” he told reporters, reiterating the point that he had first indicated earlier in the day.

Also read : Floor test to President rule: How Karnataka crisis may play out

“I’ve certain rules… I will go by that. Then decision will be taken. I’ve to be responsible,” Kumar had told reporters on Tuesday morning, around the same time that a meeting of Congress legislators started in state capital Bengaluru.

The Congress has lost nearly a dozen lawmakers over the last week or so who dropped their resignation letters at the speaker’s office before being flown to Mumbai where they were first sequestered in the city’s Sofitel hotel before being quietly moved to Pune yesterday and then to Renaissance Powai.

Congress leaders such as its top troubleshooter DK Shivakumar have been trying to get in touch with the rebels in the hope of persuading them to withdraw their resignation from the party and take a cabinet berth in the Kumaraswamy government as their return gift. The Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition did get its 32 ministers to resign on Monday to make space for them.

Ramesh Kumar has made it clear that the rebels would have to emerge from their secret location and meet him in person to enable him to take a call.

“If everything happens through postal correspondence, then I’m not required at all,” the assembly speaker said.

Kumar also underlined that he had to be convinced that the resignations were voluntary

“The clause says if the Speaker is convinced that the resignations are voluntary and genuine then he can accept, not otherwise,” the Karnataka assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar said.

The ground rules for accepting the resignation would suit the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition that has been struggling to stay afloat. Over the past week, the 13 Congress and JDS legislators have sent across their resignation letters. Suspended Congress MLA and ex-minister Roshan Baig who handed over his resignation to the speaker on Tuesday was the 14th.

Also read: ‘Come back or be disqualified’: Siddaramaiah’s warning to rebel Cong MLAs

Besides, two independent lawmakers who had been inducted into Kumaraswamy’s cabinet just last month, H Nagesh and R Shankar, have written to the Governor withdrawing support to the state government.

If speaker Ramesh Kumar accepts the 14 resignation letters on his table, it would bring down the strength of the 224-member assembly (excluding one nominated MLA) to 110, and the majority mark to 106. The ruling coalition would be reduced to a minority with just 103 legislators as against the BJP’s 105. With support from the 2 independent lawmakers who switched sides, the BJP would be in a majority.

It is a prospect that the Congress is scrambling to avoid.

After a meeting of the Congress legislative party, Siddaramaiah echoed the points articulated by the Speaker to underscore that the resignations sent by 10 Congress MLAs were “not voluntary and genuine”.

He also accused the BJP in Karnataka and Delhi of attempting to destablise the Kumaraswamy government and pinned the blame for the coalition’s crisis on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

“Ever since the coalition government took over in the state, the BJP is trying to destabilise it,” the former chief minister alleged.

“This is their sixth attempt,” he added.

Siddaramaiah said the Congress would petition the Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to seek the disqualification of MLAs who have tendered their resignation if they do not withdraw it on their own.

“The CLP has decided to submit a petition to the Speaker seeking disqualification of the members who are trying to resign from their membership. Not only to disqualify them but they shall not be allowed to contest the election for the next six years,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after the meeting.

A senior Congress leader said that the party was confident that MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who was one of nine Congress legislators to resign last Saturday, would return to the fold.

“After one person returns many more will follow, wait and watch. This episode is not over yet,” the Congress leader said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A senior Congress leader said that the party was confident that MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who was one of nine Congress legislators to resign last Saturday, would return to the fold.

“After one person returns, many more will follow, wait and watch. This episode is not over yet,” the Congress leader said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

First Published: Jul 09, 2019 13:20 IST

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